Baseball America has released their pre-season top 100 draft prospects today, complete with scouting reports for each player. The Pirates will have four to five picks in the top 100, depending on whether Derrek Lee signs with another team or opts for retirement.
The Pirates pick eighth overall in the first round. Baseball America’s eighth ranked player is Brian Johnson, a left handed pitcher and first baseman. Right after Johnson at number nine is a player that will probably be more appealing to Pirates fans: power hitting outfielder Victor Roache. Roache hit 30 home runs last year as a sophomore at Georgia Southern, despite the new college bats which sap power. He does have some issues with breaking balls, which were exposed in the Cape Cod league this past season. But the lack of power in the Pirates’ system will probably be enough to put Roache on the want list all year leading up to the draft.
It’s important to note that these rankings are extremely premature. Last year Baseball America had guys like Trevor Bauer and Dylan Bundy ranked as mid-first round picks in February. After strong seasons both ended up in the top five before the draft. In 2010 Manny Machado was rated 11th overall in the pre-season rankings, and finished the year ranked 3rd overall. On the flip side, Anthony Ranaudo started the year ranked 2nd overall and ended up 26th overall after a year filled with injuries and poor performance.
It’s possible that guys like Mark Appel or Devin Marrero will fall to the Pirates at number eight, although I think that heavily depends on those guys struggling throughout the year, which isn’t ideal for your first round pick. I think a bigger possibility would be that someone from the 10-30 ranks makes the jump to the top ten and becomes a new option for a team like the Pirates. Some of the guys I’d watch out for are prep shortstop Gavin Cecchini, Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa, and prep third baseman Trey Williams.